Unix (//; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser computer operating systems that derive from the original AT&T Unix, whose development started in the 1970s at the Bell Labs research center by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and others.
|Developer||Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna at Bell Labs|
|Written in||C and assembly language|
|Source model||Historically proprietary software, while some Unix projects (including BSD family and illumos) are open-source|
|Initial release||Development started in 1969|
First manual published internally in November 1971
Announced outside Bell Labs in October 1973
|Kernel type||Varies; monolithic, microkernel, hybrid|
|Command-line interface and Graphical (Wayland and X Window System; Android SurfaceFlinger; macOS Quartz)|
|License||Varies; some versions are proprietary, others are free/open-source software|
Initially intended for use inside the Bell System, AT&T licensed Unix to outside parties in the late 1970s, leading to a variety of both academic and commercial Unix variants from vendors including University of California, Berkeley (BSD), Microsoft (Xenix), Sun Microsystems (SunOS/Solaris), HP/HPE (HP-UX), and IBM (AIX). In the early 1990s, AT&T sold its rights in Unix to Novell, which then sold its Unix business to the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) in 1995. The UNIX trademark passed to The Open Group, an industry consortium founded in 1996, which allows the use of the mark for certified operating systems that comply with the Single UNIX Specification (SUS). However, Novell continues to own the Unix copyrights, which the SCO Group, Inc. v. Novell, Inc. court case (2010) confirmed.
Unix systems are characterized by a modular design that is sometimes called the "Unix philosophy". According to this philosophy, the operating system should provide a set of simple tools, each of which performs a limited, well-defined function. A unified filesystem (the Unix filesystem) and an inter-process communication mechanism known as "pipes" serve as the main means of communication, and a shell scripting and command language (the Unix shell) is used to combine the tools to perform complex workflows.
Unix distinguishes itself from its predecessors as the first portable operating system: almost the entire operating system is written in the C programming language, which allows Unix to operate on numerous platforms.